Enriching the Arts

Understanding Artpop through The Birth of Venus

Lady Gaga takes inspiration from Botticelli in newest album

While the visual arts have always played a prominent role in Lady Gaga’s musical career, evident in her costumes and the symbolism appearing in her music videos, she makes a clear attempt to correlate her music with the visual arts in her fourth studio album Artpop.

Notably, Lady Gaga takes inspiration from the famous 1486 painting The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, alluding to it with the album cover created by artist Jeff Koons and referencing it in the song “Venus.”

This is not the first time that Lady Gaga has drawn parallels to The Birth of Venus in her musical career. In the music video for the single “Judas,” the image of Lady Gaga standing surrounded by water also seems to reference the famous painting.

Boticelli and The Birth of Venus

Artpop_Boticelli_BirthOfVenusSandro Botticelli was commissioned to create the painting by the powerful Medici Family of Italy in the late 15th century, during the Italian Renaissance.  It depicts the birth of the Roman goddess of love, Venus, rising from the sea foam from which she was born.

Multiple interpretations exist of the work. Venus represents love, and the followers of the philosopher Plato interpret her as inspiring both physical love and spiritual love, where the contemplation of beauty led to spiritual meditation.

Through the image of Venus’ beauty, the viewer’s mind would be inspired to muse upon spiritual beauty.  Therefore, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus becomes a testament to the ability of art to stimulate the mind and spirit.

Artwork of Artpop

Artpop_StreamlineRecords

The imagery on the cover of Artpop references Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus, where the background collage includes pieces of the painting alongside snippets taken from Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne.

Lady Gaga sits at the centre of the collage, replacing the Venus depicted in Boticelli’s painting. She appears to be giving birth to a Jeff Koons gazing ball, perhaps as an allusion to the process of giving birth to art.

This appropriation of the place that Venus occupies in Boticelli’s painting parallels Lady Gaga with the Roman goddess, allying her with the qualities that the deity possesses and perhaps implying that Artpop is meant to stimulate the listener’s body and mind.

Whatever the intention, the classical painting has transcended its own time period to be reinterpreted in the pop star’s contemporary music and artwork today, becoming reborn in the minds of a new generation.

 

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